I don’t know how many sales and management related magazines, newsletters, and e-zines you subscribe to but if you are a sales professional I’m betting it is 4 or more. Every year at this time the authors of these sales resources write articles about the importance of goal setting and strategies to make sure you achieve your goals. I used to hate those articles! They always tell you to write your goals down, share them with someone who will hold you accountable, break them down into smaller steps toward the goal, put them on Post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, chant your personal affirmation, visualize yourself having already achieved the goal, and so on…
I used to end up feeling bad about my lack of motivation for goal setting as an activity until I found out that over 90% of North Americans do not have a written set of goals. I’m guessing that the reason for that is that goal setting is no fun!
The problem that many of us have is that we set goals that are too ambitious – they are such a stretch from what we are doing now that we fail almost before we start. Some times we set goals for things that that we “should do” instead of things we “want to do”. Many of our “new year’s resolutions” fall into this category. Will achieving that goal make us happy or someone else happy? Sometimes our goals are more like “wishes” than “action plans”.
Should we just give up on goal setting? Well here’s the problem: over the past 26 years training and coaching automotive salespeople we have consistently found that the highest performing and highest income earners do set goals and monitor their progress to achievement.
So if goal setting is valuable how can we make it more effective? Focus on one or two very meaningful goals. Use the “power of why”. If it’s an income goal, the number is less important than what you plan to do with the money! Then identify the activities that you must do in order for the goal to be achieved. The income example requires a predictable number of sales to generate the commissions. That number of sales translates into number of write-ups, number of demonstrations, number of presentations, and right up to number of prospects from walk-in or phone contact. Set weekly objectives on these “activity” measurements. Focus on the activities, track your progress, and the results take care of themselves.
If you really feel the need to make a big long list of goals without any action plan or activities to measure then at least do this: put a few things on your to-do list that you have already done. That’s right. Things you have already done. That way instead of feeling depressed a few months later because you are nowhere near on track to your goals - you can at least check those things off your list!